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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Yiran Zhu

We present a project proposal that focuses on ideas of time and methodology, adopting the phrase ‘urgency of slowness’, borrowed from artist Celia Pym. Inspired by past Artangel projects, we are drawn to the practice of urban walking and its utilisation of pace and rhythm, which lends itself organically to slowing down.

The idea for the Parade of Pause was born out of the aim to set a rhythm for a shared parading of slowness, deliberately contrasting with the rapid speed of consumer culture that engulfs London as a city. Why Parade? The word’s origins are rooted in the Latin parare, meaning to prepare, parry to stop or halt, which resonates with the idea of slowing down. There is never a distinct, isolated sound that represents the act of parading, rather the sound of a parade becomes enmeshed with the urban circulation of place, its people and objects, creating an asynchronous symphony of everyday life. We have commissioned Lucie Štěpánková (aka Avsluta), a London-based Czech-born electro-acoustic composer and sound artist, to create a soundscape that intertwines field recordings and live improvisations with objects to accompany the parade – setting its pace and rhythm. Playing with various loops to create a polyrhythmic soundscape, Štěpánková explores ecosystemic ideas and our relation to space and one another. 

Our hope is to elicit a powerful response towards the urgency that slowness demands, particularly within the environment we currently find ourselves. Slowness, in this understanding, does not simply want to take the speed out of contemporaneity but allows us to experience our present with all its different speeds and in all its complexity and diversity.

In collaboration with: Ciarán Mac Domhnaill; Camilla Wrabetz; Gabriella Ackerman; Marianne Tynan; Taeyeong Kim; Emma Mo

Photo: Lucie Stepankova performing a live improvisation inside the 4DSOUND sound system, 2023. Image courtesy of Pirelli Hangar Bicocca.

Yiran Zhu

Yiran Zhu is a curator and creative practitioner interested in the notion of collectivity. Her practice is framed by feminist curatorial methodology, exploring ways to facilitate real-life interactions and form long-term relationships. Through her work, she is keen to interrogate the current patriarchal canon and find possibilities of a more inclusive art world.

For her individual research project, she is proposing a year-long artists-led workshop series, focusing on working with females and other marginalised genders in the British East and Southeast Asian community. In this post-pandemic period and the current super-diverse London ecology, British East and Southeast Asian are collectively facing some problems and concerns such as institutional racism and unconscious bias, lacking presentation in the mainstream world and their complex relationship with their “Asianess”. Among the community, females and other marginalised genders are more affected. Therefore, she sees the urgency of creating spaces for sharing and caring, with the potential of building collective powers to encourage social changes. 

Prior to her time in the RCA, Yiran studied Visual Arts at the Bennington College in Vermont, US. She also has 6 years of experience working in the commercial sector of the arts in China.